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Friday Bible Blogging - Psalms 61 to Psalms 70

This entry is part of a series. For a listing of all entries in the series, go to the Index. Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV). All headings are links to those Bible chapters.

BibleThis week's entry covers Psalms 61 through 70. There were a few interesting passages, but none of the particularly well known psalms like I've covered in weeks past.

Psalms, Chapter 61

Psalm 61 was fairly typical - praising God and asking for fairly generic blessings.


Psalms, Chapter 62

This was another psalm of praise, but there were a few parts that caught my attention. First was this passage from verse 9.

Those of low estate are but a breath,
   those of high estate are a delusion;
in the balances they go up;
   they are together lighter than a breath.

I know I haven't gotten to Ecclesiastes, yet, in this series, but I have read it some, and this passage reminds me of something you'd read in that book. Whether you're weak or powerful, rich or poor, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't really matter - we're all inconsequential. However, reading the footnotes in the New Oxford Annotated Bible (NOAB), it appears there's a different interpretation of this verse. To quote that note, "The good deeds of the evildoers are so unsubstantial, they are weightless." Hmm. I just don't get that from the passage.

I haven't really focused on the poetry itself much, but the NOAB did point out an interesting structure in this chapter.

Once God has spoken;
   twice have I heard this:

This illustrates a very strong parallelism between the introduction and the follow up line.


Psalms, Chapter 63

This psalm started off with an interesting line that I wouldn't have gotten without the NOAB footnotes.

O God, you are my God, I seek you,
   my soul thirsts for you;

Apparently, in Hebrew, the same word can mean 'soul' and 'throat', so this was a pun. Otherwise, this was a typical psalm - praise of God, thanksgiving for his blessings, and curses on the psalmist's enemies.


Psalms, Chapter 64

Yet another typical psalm, asking for God's protection against enemies, and that God will punish those enemies.


Psalms, Chapter 65

There was an interesting footnote in the NOAB concerning verses 6 and 7. To me, it seems like it could be a bit of a stretch, but considering it's a theme that's appeared before, it could be legitimate. So, I'll quote both and let the reader decide. The NOAB described the verses as, "The divine victory associated with creation: the mountains are placed in their bases (see Pss 89.12; 90.2) and the chaotic primeval waters are defeated (see Ps 89.9-13)." And here are the verses.

By your strength you established the mountains;
   you are girded with might.
You silence the roaring of the seas,
   the roaring of their waves,
   the tumult of the peoples.


Psalms, Chapter 66

I've mentioned numerous times throughout Psalms that there appears to be a shift away from animal sacrifice and towards actual changes of heart. But, lest you thought the Bible was abandoning animal sacrifice, this psalm made sure to discuss it.

I will come into your house with burnt-offerings;
   I will pay you my vows,
those that my lips uttered
   and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.
I will offer to you burnt-offerings of fatlings,
   with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams;
I will make an offering of bulls and goats.


Psalms, Chapter 67

Psalm 67 is a short hymn of praise. The opening was familiar, being similar to Numbers 6:24.

May God be gracious to us and bless us
   and make his face to shine upon us...


Psalms, Chapter 68

This psalm is rather interesting. According to the NOAB, "Psalm 68 is the most difficult psalm in the book, and scholars do not agree on what kind of poem Psalm 68 is, as well as what many of its words and phrases mean. It is perhaps best taken as a communal thanksgiving for defending the people against infertility and attack."

Verse 4 talks about "him who rides upon the clouds", hinting at Yahweh's past as a storm god.

Bearing in mind the note in the NOAB about the difficulty in translating this chapter, this is still some particularly violent imagery.

But God will shatter the heads of his enemies,
   the hairy crown of those who walk in their guilty ways.
The Lord said,
   'I will bring them back from Bashan,
I will bring them back from the depths of the sea,
so that you may bathe your feet in blood,
   so that the tongues of your dogs may have their share from the foe.'


Psalms, Chapter 69

Verses 19 to 21 should certainly seem familiar to Christians. It's not quoted directly in the New Testament, but it's certainly reminiscent of Jesus, including the episode from the crucifixion where he was given vinegar to drink.

You know the insults I receive,
   and my shame and dishonour;
   my foes are all known to you.
Insults have broken my heart,
   so that I am in despair.
I looked for pity, but there was none;
   and for comforters, but I found none.
They gave me poison for food,
   and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

Actually, after googling "psalm 69 jesus", I found an interesting page, Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible - Psalms 69. It discusses just how many times verses from this psalm are quoted in the New Testament. I know Christians take that as a sign of continuity, but I think it can also been seen as a rather earthly source for New Testament material, especially when you read this psalm in full - the context of the passages here don't seem to square with their uses in the New Testament.

In seeking out vengeance against his enemies, the psalmist has asked that they "be blotted out of the book of the living". According to the NOAB, this 'book of the living' was apparently a "scroll containing the fates of individuals".


Psalms, Chapter 70

Psalm 70 was nearly a verbatim copy of verses 13 to 17 of Psalm 40, again illustrating the manner in which the Bible was put together as a collection of collections. Otherwise, I didn't have much to say about this passage back in chapter 40, and I don't have anything new to add now.

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To be honest, it was a little hard getting through this week's reading. It's just getting so repetitious. I wonder if the psalms would seem better read in isolation, rather than reading them straight through and getting burnt out on the poetry.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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